The telltale signs of an intense workout are unavoidable – clammy hands, sweaty hairline and a big red face. No doubt, exercise is good for the mind and the muscles, but it can put a lot of pressure on your bod. The chaffing, blocked pores, breakouts and burst blood vessels may come from a good place, but that doesn’t make them any more desirable.
Perspiration is an unavoidable physiological response to your body’s rising temperature. But, that sweat can irritate the skin. With more toxins rising to the surface – advance apologies for the grossness – bacteria is given an ample platform to breed. The solution? A four-pronged response: plan, prevent, attack and prosper.
Begin before the burn by washing your skin with an antibacterial cleanser to ensure your face is as clean and bacteria free as can be. Recommended: Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser (£8) because it’s so gentle.
Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we touch our faces a lot – the average adult strokes their complexion an average of 3.6 times per hour – especially when we’re sweating. Communal classes, like spin or boxing, may help with motivation but the equipment is often not all that clean. Top tip: take an anti-bac into class and give your bike a quick wipe down or your hands a good smothering before you stuff them into those well-used gloves. We like to use Margaret Dabbs’ hand sanitizer (£12).
Consider cleaning your face as important as having a shower after a sweat sesh. Skin is extra sensitive after exercise, so Alice Henshaw suggests avoiding any retinol, Vitamin C and oils. ‘Also, as tempting as it may be to take make-up remover wipes to the gym you should stay clear of alcohol-based face wipes, which can overstimulate leading to an overproduction of oil. If your skin builds up too much oil, it can result in breakouts,’ she says.
With your pores open and bacteria rising to the surface, thoroughly cleanse your skin with a salicylic acid (to prevent future spots), like Dr Barbara Sturm’s (£40). If you’ve been exercising outdoors, firstly well done, it’s bloody cold out but secondly, consider the pollution and grime. Look for antiseptic products that will help clarify your skin, like clove oil.
If redness is a problem (welcome to the club), try using an ice roller (£9.95) as it will decrease redness in double-time. Otherwise a cooling, calming product like Tata Harper’s Clarifying Moisturizer (£86.26) or Kopari’s Beauty Coconut Rose Toner (£20) that uses rosewater to rebalance the pH of your skin will bring down inflammation. A sweat-resistant balm, like try e.l.f’s Hydration Stick (£9) is one way to keep your face calm if you’re heading straight from workout to work via a sweaty commute. When studying the back of products look for key ingredients like oat kernels, tea tree oil, lavender extract, witch hazel, liquorice root or aloe that will help soothe, hydrate and nix that redness.
With your skin and bod thoroughly cleansed the next step is injecting moisture back into your skin. Drink some H2O and apply a moisturizer containing ceramides (A waxy lipid that traps in moisture) and hyaluronic acid (a humectant that makes the skin look plump), like Pretty Athletic’s Workout Glow (£17.50).
Capture the glow of your workout with make-up that counters the post-gym flush and inevitable clamminess. Begin with colour-correcting primer, like Clinique’s Post Workout Neutralizing Face Powder (£19.50) and follow up with a humidity-proof foundation containing SPF (like Clinique’s, £20.50) or a green concealer (like Estee Lauder’s, £24) to counter the underlying redness. If you’re worried that your face is still clammy and the make-up will slip-off, finish with Givenchy’s Prisme Libre powder (£36.50). Don’t miss Birchbox’s Arrow range, which is designed to cool the skin with its breathable make-up – the Cooling Cheak Tint (£14) and Waterproof Eyeliner and Brightner (£12) is a must. When sweat proof is the name of the game, Eyeko’s Waterproof Yoga Mascara (£14.25) is up to the test. It has a Korean-designed formula that calls on matcha green tea for power and Vitamin E for an antioxidant boost that will keep your lashes lifted and curled all day.